“Wisdom with Relationships”
Prov. 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
One of the most important things in life is who your friends are.
God cares about your friends because no one will influence you like they will.
FACT: Where you are in life five years from now will depend on two things—the strength of your commitment to God and who your friends were.
Who your friends are is the greatest indicator of your own spiritual walk, because birds of a feather really do flock together.
This is why the Christian is exhorted by God to “Choose your friends wisely.”
FACT OF LIFE: We cannot love and serve God properly if our friendships are out of whack.
The Bible assumes that when a person is changed by Christ, their relationships will change also:
1 Pet 4: 2-4 “You have spent enough time in the past doing what ungodly people choose to do. You lived a wild life. You longed for evil things. You got drunk. You went to wild parties. The Lord hates that. 4 Ungodly people think that it's strange when you no longer join them in what they do.”
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before bringing someone into your life as a close friend:
Do they profess Christ as their Savior?
Are they living moral lives?
Do they share your godly convictions?
Though they say they’re Christian, are they walking their talk?
Are you spiritually weaker or stronger after having been with them?
Is this person pressuring you to compromise your godly convictions?
Are you better off now than before you knew them?
TWO KINDS OF FRIENDSHIPS:
ACQUAINTANCES: An acquaintance is a person with whom you have only occasional contact. A neighbor, someone on a sports team with you, an employee at a store, a classmate.
In the acquaintance level there are no emotional attachments, commitments, or strong influences.
CLOSE FRIENDSHIPS: With a close friendship a significant level of transparency and commitment exist. Close friends know our secrets. They know about our conflicts, temptations, marriage issues, kids, doubts, fears and so on.
Close friendships are based on deep trust (I will never hurt you), accountability (I will let you speak into my life), and a commitment to wanting the best for each other.
The Bible never says that the Christian should not have non-Christian friends on the ACQUAINTANCE level.
This is one way we win people to Christ—friendship evangelism.
But we should choose our CLOSE FRIENDS carefully and wisely.
Let me tell you why:
The Bible says that:
We are directly affected for better or for worse by who we walk with as close friends….
“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.” (Prov. 13:20).
Look at the power of friendship! They are contagious!
If I befriend a wise person, I will become wiser—it will rub off.
If I befriend a fool (one who rejects God’s Word and God’s ways) I will experience HARM!
The “HARM” we experience in the wrong kind of friendships is:
Continuous temptation to compromise our convictions in order to “get along” or “be accepted.”
A dulling of our walk with God.
A damaged testimony by association with people that don’t honor God.
To run with the ungodly is to disobey God’s Word…
Eph 5:6-7 “Let no one…deceive you with empty excuses and…arguments [justifying their sinful lives], for through these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of rebellion. DO NOT ASSOCIATE…WITH THEM.”
Don’t associate with whom? Those that justify sin in their life.
If you’re walking with Christ and they’re not, what do you really have in common with them anyway?
2 Cor. 6:14 “Do not be joined to unbelievers. What do right and wrong have in common? Can light and darkness be friends?”
Amos 3:3 “Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren't going to the same place?”
You will learn the habits of those you run with…
Prov. 22:24-25 “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.”
The Bible is saying that…
If you think you can hang with people that aren’t Christian and not be affected, you’re deceived. The Bible warns…
1 Cor. 15:33 “Don't let anyone fool you. Bad companions ruin good character."
INESCAPABLE FACT OF LIFE: Your friends will rub off on you.
In other words, through wrong friendships the GOOD BECOME BAD.
The Wisdom of God encourages us to be wise in choosing friends.
To the same degree the wrong kind of friendship can be damaging, a godly friendship can be a blessing!
Prov. 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
What does it mean to be SHARPENED!
Just as a knife that is sharp is productive, useful, and helpful, so to be SHARPENED as a person is to be useful, helpful and productive in life and society.
The word “sharpened” suggests the fullness of life—physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
In other words, to be a “sharpened” person is to be well-balanced, effective, successful, prepared, and fulfilled.
This is what a godly friendship will do!
A godly friendship sharpens one’s looks, cheers the spirit, puts a briskness and liveliness into the countenance.
“…a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
Good men are sharpened by friendship with those that are good, and bad men's lusts and passions are sharpened by friendship with those that are bad.
So to be SHARPENED by a godly relationship is to be made ready, useful, and productive in life and society – it means to be joined together and grow to meet the challenges in life and helped to be ready for Eternal life, through faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the power of a godly friend!
How do we develop a godly friendship?
First, it must be:
Just as iron must intentionally be brought to bear on sharpening other iron, so we must be intentional about sharpening one another.
We need to intentionally seek those out who can sharpen us and we need to intentionally seek those whom we can sharpen as well.
Second, it takes:
If I have an iron sword and you have an iron sword, the two will never be sharpened if they aren’t in relationship—sword to sword.
The Sword has to be present, in contact with the other Sword, in order for it to be sharpened.
It is the same with us.
You can’t truly sharpen another person if you aren’t together – in contact with each other – in relationship with one another.
The Bible Calls this – FELLOWSHIP!
“Instead, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called “today,” so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception.”—Heb.3: 13
We must be intentional, we must be in contact, and we must be open to:
Iron sharpens iron as it is in contact…
The process of contact INFLUENCES the other and sharpens the pieces of iron.
We sharpen one another by influencing each other with a godly walk.
That is why the Bible calls each of us to Teach, Encourage, Set an Example, Exhort, Urge, Spur each other on toward love and good deeds…
The Process of sharpening each other in a godly friendship must be first:
Requires RELATIONSHIP, and our being open to
QUESTION: What do the relationships in your life look like?
Are they helping or hindering?
Strengthening or weakening?
Sharpening you or dulling you?